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Jack and Helen Tyree

Jack and Helen Tyree

By Lori Greiner

Jack Tyree, 97, will tell you that helping young people take on 4-H projects and seeing them grow and learn have made a big impact on his life.

From his early beginnings as an 8-year-old 4-H member in Cabell County, W.Va., throughout his career as a 4-H agent in West Virginia and Virginia and as the Virginia 4-H program leader, 4-H has helped shape Tyree into the person he is today.

“My experience in the 4-H program provided a foundation for my life,” said Tyree. “I wanted to use the inspiration and guidelines I learned in 4-H to live according to the four-fold concept of head, heart, hands, and health and pass it along to others, which is what I have tried to do.”

And to ensure that others will have similar opportunities in 4-H, Tyree and his wife have established two endowments — the Jack and Helen Tyree 4-H Teen Financial Education Endowment and the Jack and Helen Tyree 4-H Teen Leadership Endowment — that will help support financial education and leadership development programs in Virginia 4-H.
Tyree believes that helping 4-H members gain an appreciation for personal finance is important. He wants them to understand the value of money and how it can help them achieve their goals, but also to know that wealth comes in various forms. The endowment will be used to provide teen members with critical knowledge and skills in personal finance, such as investing, budgeting, and credit card management.

“It is important that 4-H’ers gain a greater appreciation for how finances can personally help us improve our lives and how we can invest that wealth to help others,” said Tyree.

The Teen Leadership Endowment will enable Virginia 4-H to expand its leadership development opportunities for teens to learn about the leadership qualities and competencies that will help prepare them for the future.

“Jack continues to give back in ways that are not easily put in terms of dollars,” said Cathy Sutphin, associate director for 4-H youth development programs. “He continues to make a significant contribution to the wellness of the organization through his mentorship of faculty and sharing his wealth of knowledge and experience.”

The Tyrees always loved the people and experiences they shared though their 4-H days. In addition to serving as an agent and state program leader, Tyree was instrumental in organizing the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents and was on its first board and was the public relations chair for its executive committee. Helen was a 4-H club leader for many years.

“I believe that adults who have had experiences through 4-H like I have would also be blessed by finding ways to assist in providing 4-H programs so that the programs will even be stronger today,” said Tyree. “And I’m thankful for those that had the vision and determination to create the 4-H program.”

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